After standing for over century, the Hat and Feathers was demolished on 18th July 2009 and replaced by a car park. The same fate that has saw off many of Manchester’s greatest architectural treasure, such as the modernist masterpiece York House , which regrettably was demolished in 1974.
The Hat and Feathers was a rare example of a Victorian possibly Georgian corner back street public house in the area of Ancoats; with it’s traditional layout and fine exterior tiling dating from at least 1841 when it was run by publican John Jackson (Pigot & Slater 1841); listed as the Hat and Feather at number 13 Mason Street. John Jackson stayed there for no more than nine years and by 1850 Thos. Doyle (Slater 1850) had taken over.
Mason Street at this time would have been a hive of activity and very much what would many would recognise as a traditional high street today. Strewn with small busy local shops and cobbles underfoot. Meanwhile, Manchester had gone global and had become the first and greatest industrial city in the world.
Mason Street in 1850 included a bakers (No 1, Thomas Swift), a potato dealer (No 7, John Sheridan), a hairdressers (No 15, Samuel Roper), a wholesale grocers (No 6, Stephen Sheldon & John Joule) along with two more grocers shops (No 46, James Ellison), (No 52, Sarah Roberts). There were also three more public houses along Mason Street: Red Bull Tavern (No 45, landlord Eliza Campbell), Peel’s Arms Inn (No 12 , landlord Ralph Bailey), Markland’s Arms (No 50, landlord William Rose). There was also a patent saw mill run by Thomas Taylor (No 5); John Evans a mattress maker (No 17); leather seller Joseph Hardy (No 14), warp sizers John Bardsley and Co (No 20); timber merchants John and Edmund Watson Cryer (No 20);
By 1863 there was a new landlord called David Sloane (Slater 1863) and the Hat and Feathers was now listed at 15 Mason Street. By 1876 is the Hat and Feathers landlord was Maria Sloane (Slater 1876). Maria Sloane continued to run the pub to at least 1886 (Slater 1886), but by 1895 publican John Proudler was in charge of the Hat and Feathers. It was also now listed as being at numbers 15 & 17 Mason Street (Slater 1895), indicating possible expansion when two buildings could have been knocked into one . The pub could have been possibly older.
A combination of property speculation and poor management and subsequent fire damage finally sounded the death knell on this historic architectural gem of Ancoats, when an application for demolition was submitted on Friday 28th November 2008.
The Hat and Feathers also fell within an area within what Manchester City Council refers to as ‘character areas’, or an ‘area of change’ and so the planned 7 storey building apartments for students with a Class A1 shop at ground level with basement car parking would meet the requirements of Collyhurst Local Plan, although how the new build would “exploit the historic character of Mason Street” as well as enhancing the character and appearance of the street scene” is unclear.
Before the Hat & Feathers was demolished, for a number of years the pub had entered into the dark annals of British criminal history, by becoming the second home to London gangster, Eric Mason, who had moved to Manchester to be closer to friends and family. Maybe it was the street name that attracted him or the familiar surroundings of traditional pub, that wouldn’t have looked to dissimilar to the many pubs he would have visited during his past criminal career in London.
“It had been three long years since one of Manchester’s most popular figures had sat at the bar in the Hat & Feathers. Three long years since the famous cockney accent had been heard, and three long years since a glass of gin and tonic had sat in the hand that could tell a million and one stories… As we gathered around the small doorway, it felt like waiting at a surprise party for the guest to arrive, and moments later, he did. A broad grin spread across Eric’s face as he strode through the door, which was quickly replaced by a look of surprise as he realised how many people were there. Hands were stretched out to warmly shake his, and he did so gladly… The shutters on the cameras whirled as Eric took his place in the small snug to talk to the assembled media.” (The Geordie Connection 2008)
The name Hat and Feathers may derive from industries in the local area or more likely may refer to the emblem of the Prince of Wales who was the Commander in Chief (Prince George, Duke of Cambridge – 1819-1904), whose heraldic badge is a trio of feathers. Feathers would traditionally be worn in caps of regiment soldiers.
Pigot & Slater (1841). Pigot & Slater’s Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1841. Manchester & London: Pigot & Slater’s. p105.
Slater (1850). Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1850. Manchester & London: Slater’s. p65
Slater (1863). Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1863. Manchester & London: Slater’s. p112
Slater (1876). Slater’s Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1876. [Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc.], 1876. Part 2. Manchester & London: Slater’s. p169.
Slater (1886). Slater’s Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1886. [Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc.], 1886. Part 2. Manchester & London: Slater’s. p249.
Slater (1895). Slater’s Manchester & Salford Directory, 1895. [Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc.], 1895. Part 2. Manchester & London: Slater’s. p213.
Unknown. (Jan 2010). Manchester, the First Industrial City 1760 – 1830.Available: http://www.grimshaworigin.org/ManchesterIndustrialCity.htm. Last accessed 25th Oct 2012.
http://www.thegeordieconnection.com/ericmaison/index.html – website no longer available. Last accessed 3rd Jul 2010.
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- Punch Tavern wakes up to its debt crisis (guardian.co.uk)